Technologies for Distributed Connectivity 1 RUNNING HEADS: Distributed Connectivity Technologies

Telecommunications and Distributed Connectivity Technologies James Williams University of Phoenix Online January 19, 2009

Technologies for Distributed Connectivity 2 Telecommunications and Distributed Connectivity Technologies Introduction This paper will examine the efficiency and effectiveness of three current telecommunications technologies used by local and global teams, analyze each technology for appropriateness in keeping team members connected over wide distances, and determine which technology would provide the maximum benefits for team collaboration. The three technologies examined in this paper are: 1) web portal, 2) mobile telephone, and 3) Personal Data Assistants (PDA) technologies. Examination of Technologies This paper discusses the above mentioned technologies and ranks them according to three criteria: 1) complexity of development and implementation 2) cost of adopting and implementing, and 3) success in meeting user needs. Complexity of development and implementation examined the amount of personnel expertise required to employ the technology to include developer, installer, and user training. The cost of adopting and implementing the technologies investigated the total cost of ownership (TCO). The success in meeting user needs explored the effectiveness of the technology in providing users with reliable and timely communications and its ability to convey information and knowledge between team members. Web Portals Web portals require little in the way of any expertise except in web-page programming and page design. Setting up a web portal requires the assistant of a web master and network administrator. Many Internet providers also offer web portal hosting as well. Third-part hosting agencies would add an element of security risk by hackers. Local hosting would require additional security and bandwidth measures to be effective.

Technologies for Distributed Connectivity 3 Cost of adoption and implementation would include the prices for development, hosting and upgrading the system. In addition additional security may be required in the form of a specially assigned firewall and additional antivirus and intrusion detection software. Normal costs for web hosting a portal are from $45 to $199 a month. Additional data transfer rates may be needed. In a series of case studies Yusof (2008) presents the success of web portals that use open source software (OSS) as a communications technology that provides a cost-effective, reliable, and viable solution to distributed connectivity for knowledge workers in a virtual environment. The addition of an interactive feature such as a blog or message board would allow more interaction between team members. Connected to an Customer Resource Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), or Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) system a web portal would be a highly effective and efficient method for facilitating the efforts of knowledge workers while keeping teams aligned with corporate strategies and mission. Mobile Phones Complexity of development and implementation of cellular technologies would be low since basic units are usually procured from third-party agencies. Some user training may be required to familiarize people with accessing the phones features and secure telephony procedures. The cost of adoption and implementation cellular technology is moderately expensive. The costs depend on the number of hours needed by the company or unlimited time may be selected. Average suggested retail cost of cellular technology runs from $40 to $65 per month per user and the cost of each phone can run as high as $225 for devices with advanced features.

Technologies for Distributed Connectivity 4 Success in meeting user and team needs with inexpensive cell phones is moderate. Workers can talk directly with a maximum of two other workers in a conference call. Without additional features such as texting and voice mail cellular technology is not as effective as needed within a team environment. Personal Data Assistants (PDAs) Complexity of development and implementation for PDAs is relatively low. Some user training is needed and wireless access points (WAPs) need to be installed at strategic locations to provide WiFi coverage. Additional server storage is also needed for daily backup of PDA contents. Costs of adopting PDAs are moderately expensive. Modern units with WiFi capabilities run around $400 a unit. Additional network resources must also be set up to handle the additional security and bandwidth demands imposed by the PDAs. Success in meeting user and team needs is only marginal. Basic units only provide email, limited web access, and storage of commonly used files. Communications is asynchronous and is not conducive for full interaction between knowledge workers. Results of Analysis According to Davenport and Prusak (2000), knowledge workers are people who process information, experiences, values, and rules-of-thumb and apply their judgments, insights, and intuitions and the external circumstances and contexts to the subject material and produce a composite element called knowledge. Knowledge is therefore, a product of the mind and resides within the minds of the people who produce it. Reagan and O’Conner (2002) posit that these people are the white-collar workers who make up 70% of the workforce in North America. In order for a given technology to provide a basis for the instant action, self-renewing, and self-

Technologies for Distributed Connectivity 5 adapting learning organization espoused by Fradette and Michaud (1998) it must be able to facilitate, promote, and capture the knowledge that resides within each worker’s mind and do so in as cost effective a manner as possible. Haag, Cummings, and Phillips (2005) call the knowledge retained in a person’s mind business intelligence. Therefore, in order for the technology for a knowledge team to be effective the technology must provide a high order of success in collaboration and knowledge transfer while remaining low in complexity. In addition the technology must be cost-effective in order to provide a viable business solution. The results of the analysis of the three technologies are presented in Table 1. While none of the basic technologies meet all the collaboration and connectivity needs for collaboration and communication within a widely dispersed knowledge team each technology does meet minimum needs in one or more of these areas. The final area noted on the chart represents the more sophisticated PDA systems that provide features for telephony, texting, sharing calendar entries, email, and web access. Ranging in price from $460 to $725 these advanced PDA systems provide GPS tracking, WiFi and BlueTooth connectivity, Mobile Office, email, Instant Messenger, biometric identification, and cellular telephony features.
Technology Web Portals Cell Phones PDAs Cell Phone + PDA Complexity Low to High Low to Medium Low High Cost Low to Medium Expensive Expensive Very Expensive Success Medium Medium Medium Medium to High

Table 1. Results of Analysis From the author’s personal experiences in education, military, and telecommunications the best practices for communications is to employ multiple and mixed media channels that allow for redundancy and diversification in means of communications. The most effective

Technologies for Distributed Connectivity 6 technology to employ for knowledge teams would be a combination of the more advanced cellular devices alongside a web portal. The cell phone could be used for direct phone and conference calls, texting one or all team members, recording voice notes, sharing calendar events, accessing the web portal and interacting with blogs as needed by each member of the team. The web portal would be used to post common information and discussion sections with a blog or message board for posting responses. While this solution would not replace the need for face-to-face communications it can drastically reduce the amount of these meetings and the associated time and resources inherent in such meetings while allowing virtual teams to prosper in their efforts. Conclusion This paper has described and analyzed the cellular, PDA, and web portal technologies as possible means for providing dispersed members of a knowledge team with the tools needed for effective collaboration, innovation, and transfer of knowledge between members of the team. As shown in Table 1 none of the basic telecommunications technologies discussed above provide a highly effective environment that meets the needs of an enterprise wide knowledge team. The present state of cellular technology though has turned the more advanced cell phones into cellular PDA communication devices that have the majority of features that make collaboration and knowledge transfer possible. Though expensive these devices meet the majority of the needs of a knowledge team, especially when merged with an effective web portal technology.

Technologies for Distributed Connectivity 7 References Davenport, T. H. and Prusak, L. (2002). Working knowledge: How organizations manage what they know. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Fradette & Michaud (1998). The power of corporate kinetics: Creating the self-adapting, selfrenewing, instant action enterprise. London: Simon & Schuster UK, Ltd. Haag, S., Cummings, M., & Phillips, A. (2005). Management information systems for the information age (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. Regan, E. A., & O’Connor, B. N. (2002). End-user information systems: Implementing individual and work group technologies (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Yusof, K. (2008). Case Studies Knowledge Bank. Open Source Competency Centre, Government of Malasia, Septmber 16, 2008. downloaded January 15, 2009 from http://knowledge.oscc.org.my/case-studies.

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